In Wigan, we've chosen to adopt Signs of Safety as our practice model, which goes hand in hand with the Deal principles and the Deal 2030.
The Deal 2030 is our plan for our place, underpinned by the BeWigan behaviours that show how we work together, talk to each other, and get things done. Through the Deal principles, we empower and trust in our teams and individuals, giving them the permission to do things differently, to create and innovate.
Signs of Safety is an innovative and strength-based approach to working with children and families across early help and social care. It provides us with the framework to support our BeWigan behaviours of being accountable, courageous, positive and kind, strengthening practice so our staff feel confident in what they do.
This approach is grounded in partnership and collaboration and involves working with families to identify strengths and community assets. Through our Social Work Health Check (2020/2021), we know our staff value our strong and clear social work framework.
Why Signs of Safety?
We like that Signs of Safety makes sure the view of the child, their parents and their safety network - the important people in the child’s life - are part of the solution.
We like that the approach is about children, families, their network and professionals working together to meet the needs of children in the best possible way.
The model provides our staff the tools they need to manage complex situations, allowing them to work in collaboration with children and families, keeping children safe from harm and securing permanence for children at the earliest possible opportunity.
Signs of Safety training
Over 500 of our staff have attended 2 day and/or 5 day Signs of Safety training, with a further 500 attending half-day briefings, webinars and/or targeted sessions.
We're currently training our own trainers, so we can continue to provide safety planning training to any new staff joining our children services team. We also facilitate online webinars and workshops about specific areas, delivered by our Signs of Safety consultants.
In addition, all of our staff have a membership to allow them full access to the Signs of Safety Knowledge Bank (external link) - an online library of the best examples and learning resources for practitioners to support best use of the model.
How we work
Signs of safety helps us work with families to understand:
- What is working well
- What we are worried about
- What needs to happen so that the child can be safe and happy in the future
- How safe the child is on a scale of 1-10
We work with the family to devise danger statements, so that it’s clear to families what they’re worried about and what might happen if nothing changes. We then agree a safety goal, deciding what behaviours need to be seen to know that the child is always safe and well.
To help the child and to ensure families know what to expect, their network and professionals will work together to achieve this safety goal by implementing a safety plan and a trajectory.
We love doing direct work with children and the voice of the children is crucial to this approach.